Showing posts with label workspace. Show all posts
Showing posts with label workspace. Show all posts

02 April 2024

Creation of the Perfect Office

In Search of the Perfect Office,” my May 2, 2023, SleuthSayers post, described my return to full-time freelancing and my desire to create the perfect office. This was a natural next step in the updating of our home—a project spread out over several years—which had seen us replace a water heater, kitchen appliances, counters, floors, and more. Some updates were by choice and sometimes were because things had worn out during the years Temple—our home’s original owner—has lived here.

Like many writers, my primary office was filled with a mismatched mishmash of furniture and other stuff acquired during a lifetime of writing. Furniture was mostly black and stainless steel, and floor space was at a premium, creating a dark cavern rather than an inviting creative space and forcing me to occasionally spread my work into the dining room.

After much discussion, we realized the only option was to go up—that is, to utilize wall space rather than floor space—and we sketched variations of how a redesign might work with new cabinetry. We also discussed what my office might look like if we spared no expense.

Then we swallowed hard and scaled back.

Before and after photos of my primary office.

We had several goals with the office redo:

Utilize the available space more efficiently. Going up was the only solution.

Create a more inviting space. This meant changing the general color scheme from black and stainless steel to white and gray. It also meant making the space less claustrophobic.

Keep work entirely within a single room. I had been migrating to the dining room table anytime I had to spread things out, so a large desktop/countertop was necessary. I also utilized a second bedroom, where I had a workstation set up with a computer specifically to do work for my largest client, and I wanted to move it into the main office.

Improve lighting. Because the room had only a central overhead light and a couple of clamp-on desk lamps, I often worked in my own shadow. Under-shelf lighting seemed appropriate.

Add more filing drawers. A career’s worth of writing filled six four-drawer filing cabinets and, because there wasn’t anywhere to put another, files were being stacked atop the filing cabinets. So, all six four-drawer cabinets were replaced with five-drawer cabinets, another example of going up.

Before and after photos of my secondary office.

After determining what we wanted done and finding someone who could do it, I began a multi-week migration out of my two rooms, turning the rest of the house into a hoarder’s paradise, with my stuff crowding available space in multiple other rooms.

As I moved things, I did a bit of winnowing. I finally threw away things I should have thrown out long ago, filled several Little Free Libraries with books I no longer needed, and donated or gave away old furniture, knick-knacks, and whatnots.

We had new carpeting installed (which would have happened whether I redesigned my office or not), had new cabinetry installed, and new filing cabinets arrived. Then I began the multiple-day task of moving everything back. Again, I discarded or gave away things I no longer needed, and I attempted to better organize what I kept.


Is my new office everything I dreamed it would be?

No, but it’s darned close.

I now have a workspace that’s warm, open, and inviting. During the past few weeks, I have felt much more at ease in my office. I no longer feel like I’m crawling into a claustrophobia-inducing dark hole when I enter, and I feel like I have room to spread out projects if I need to.

I believe this will help make me more productive, but only time will tell if that’s true or if I will, over time, turn it back into a claustrophobia-inducing dark hole.

Has anyone else attempted a complete overhaul of their writing space? What did you do, and how did it turn out?

Murder, Neat—the first SleuthSayers anthology—is available in both paperback and Kindle editions from Amazon and your favorite bookstores.

31 May 2022

Where I Write

Even after a half-day spent
cleaning, my desk is still
a mess.

Over the years, I’ve written in many places, most often a room in my home that is (or was) a dedicated office, though when I was single and living in a one-bedroom apartment, the dedicated writing space took up a significant part of the living room and, for a few years when my children were small and my home didn’t have enough rooms, my writing space occupied half of the master bedroom.

Back in the early days of personal computers, I kept a few works-in-progress on a floppy disk that I kept in my briefcase. During my lunch hour, I would slip the floppy into my work computer and bang out a page or two. I still sometimes write away from home (or thumb-type notes into my cell phone), but home has always been, and remains, my primary writing location. Part of the reason is that I’ve been tethered to desktop computers. My first portable computer was far too heavy to tote around. My first laptop computer had a flakey battery life and would never stay connected to my desktop when I tried to work from other rooms in the house.

A month ago, the entire
table was filled with

When Temple and I married almost seven years ago, I sold my home and moved into hers, and my office moved, too, from a bedroom in my home to a bedroom in hers, and that room has been my writing center ever since. Unfortunately, try as I might, I can never keep my desk as neat and organized as I would like. Every so often, I clean everything off, filing what’s important, discarding what isn’t, and doing my best to maintain a welcoming writing environment.

This past December I purchased a new laptop computer, hoping to break free of my desktop, and it may have worked too well. During the first few months of this year, I was working on five book-length projects at the same time. I needed space to spread out all my research materials, notes, and so on, and I took over the dining room table. By the end of April, I had delivered all five projects, but my laptop computer and various projects still occupy half the table.

My new outdoor office, easier
to keep neat because a
stiff breeze will blow
everything away.

Earlier this week, Temple purchased a chaise lounge for the back porch, and for a few hours each day since its arrival, I’ve parked myself and my laptop in it. (It’s where I sit right now, Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, drafting this SleuthSayers post.) While sitting out here, I’ve read submissions to current editing projects, and I’ve written part of a novella. The sunlight, fresh air, and minimal distractions are a nice change from the underlit bedroom office with distractions everywhere I turn.

This morning, Temple decided that my outdoor workspace needing sprucing up, so we cleaned off the porch, rearranged the outdoor furniture, and turned this into an inviting environment.

I think she’s hoping I’ll get all my stuff off the dining room table.

Maybe I will, or maybe I now have three writing spaces to choose from.

10 July 2017

Just Sitting Around

by Jan Grape

The other day I was just sitting around thinking about what to write for this blog. Nothing much came to mind immediately. But as luck would have it, sitting here finally gave me an idea. I'd ask some writers where they write. Do they have an office? Do they write at the dinning room table? Do they go to an actual office they rent in order to give themselves the atmosphere and the feel of a business. They need the business work place to feel the magic happen.

Through the magic of Facebook, I was able to find out how and where some writers work.

Fran Rizer, one of our Sleuthsayer family and writer the Callie Parrish books says: While I don't have an actual office, I do have a designated small room. I don't own a desk either. My computer and printer sit on an ornately carved Chinese table with a marble top. It came with a matching chair, but I use a standard roll-around office chair with arms, The table is beautiful when you can see it, which isn't often because it's usually cluttered with print-outs for proofing.

Bill Crider, who writes book in every genre but, probably best known for his Clearview, Texas Sheriff Dan Rhodes, (and for the 3 VBKs [very bad kittens] he rescued from a storm drain a little over a year ago and who have a huge following on Facebook and who were never really bad just little kittens.) Bill's upcoming Sheriff is titled, Dead To Begin With, due out in August, from Minotaur Books.
Yes, I have a office. When Judy was alive, she kept the door shut so visitors couldn't see inside. I keep it shut now because I don't want the cats to wander in and disappear. That gives you some idea of its condition. It was designed to be a small fourth bedroom, and it now holds bookshelves on three walls, some of them floor to ceiling crammed with thousands of old paperbacks. I have two computers, a printer, two scanners, an old TV set, a desk and various other items. There's not a lot of room to move around. Naturally, I love it.
Manning Wolfe, an Austin, Texas lawyer, and author of Dollar Signs, a legal mystery set in Austin says: Interesting you should ask about my office because I just re-did my space. We had Bill's mother's 1920's art deco dining room table in storage that I now use for my desk. I use both a desk top and a laptop. My picture window faces out to the patio and into the woods, I love it.

Manning desk Manning rose

I also heard from Harlan Coben,  New York Times Best-selling Author of thirty mysteries and thrillers. Most recent out is Home and upcoming is Don't Let Go, due in late September from Dutton.
He says he doesn't have a work space, that he writes where ever he happens to be sitting. Outside, at the kitchen table, on an airplane, in a hotel room.

Brendan DuBois writes: Once at Bouchceron, I heard Sue Grafton say something to the effect that she's most happiest in her office. The same is true for me. It's my time machine, my dream machine, my own place where I can write, dream, and curse. I write on trips, I write on planes and trains, but my office is my special place. It has books, mementoes, and lots of memories. Oh, and lots of clutter! In its previous life, it was a teenage girl's bedroom before me and the missus moved in. We repainted it and now it's mine, with desk, filing cabinet, and lots of books and book cases.

Brendan DuBois Brendan DuBois

Myself: I have an office, with a desk and a roll-around office chair with arms. Much like Fran described. However, I just couldn't be comfortable in there so I write sitting in my living room sofa using my laptop.

Now I'd like to hear from all of you. Tell me where and how the magic happens at your house or do you have to leave and go to an office?